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New Books in Literature

Author: Marshall Poe

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Interviews with Writers about their New Books
324 Episodes
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When I spoke with Linnea Hartsuyker back in 2017, her epic saga was just beginning. The first novel opens with her hero, Ragnvald, seeing a vision of a golden wolf who will unite the feuding kingdoms of Norway under one rule. The vision sets the course of Ragnvald’s life, bringing him into the service of Harald Fair-Hair, a young and confident warrior whose counselor and friend Ragnvald becomes. Meanwhile, Ragnvald’s sister, Svanhild, sets off on a different course, one that offers her a life of adventure not often available to women but pits her against her beloved brother.Twenty years later, Harald has come close to achieving his goal. One more wedding stands between him and a unified Norway. Svanhild and Ragnvald have returned to fighting on the same side, but two decades of wounds and battles, as well as old patterns, are catching up with the older generation. And the three of them have produced a large and varied group of children, most of them sons at or near adulthood, ready to challenge their parents’ ways and dreams. As fathers struggle with sons, mothers with daughters, brothers and cousins among themselves, and husbands with wives and concubines, Ragnvald stubbornly clings to the force of his vision and his dedication to the principles that have guided his life.Like its predecessors, The Half-Drowned King and The Sea Queen, The Golden Wolf (Harper, 2019) seamlessly blends Old Norse folklore with creative imagination to paint a picture of ninth-century Norway from the inside. Linnea Hartsuyker assembles a cast of characters that, however different they and their world may appear to a modern readership, tackles problems we all can recognize.C. P. Lesley is the author of nine novels, including Legends of the Five Directions (The Golden Lynx, The Winged Horse, The Swan Princess, The Vermilion Bird, and The Shattered Drum), a historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible, and Song of the Siren, published in 2019. Find out more about her at http://www.cplesley.com.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Planted in her mind while the author was working as a professional gardener, The Forgetting Flower (Magnolia Press, 2019) tells the story of Renia, a working- class young woman who left Crakow to live in Paris. She manages a flower shop for the obnoxious, oblivious owner, who is tone-deaf regarding business, money, and people. Renia has built a secret nook to store an unusual plant whose blossoms make people forget just about everything. The plant belonged to her twin sister, still in Crakow, and it turns out that there are lots of people interested in getting their hands on it - questionable people with guns, and drugs to sell.Karen Hugg loves plants and is thrilled when new cultivars or varieties are discovered. She is often reminded that “if she didn’t exist, they would live on just fine anyway.” Karen is a Seattle-based certified ornamental horticulturalist and Master Pruner and is also a graduate of the Goddard MFA program. When she is not actually digging in the dirt, Karen likes to write mysteries and thrillers that are set in the world of plants.If you enjoyed today’s podcast and would like to discuss it further with me and other New Books network listeners, please join us on Shuffle. Shuffle is an ad-free, invite-only network focused on the creativity community. As NBN listeners, you can get special access to conversations with a dynamic community of writers and literary enthusiasts. Sign up by going here.G.P. Gottlieb is the author of the Whipped and Sipped Mystery Series and a prolific baker of healthful breads and pastries. Please contact her through her website (GPGottlieb.com) if you wish to recommend an author (of a beautifully-written new novel) to interview, to listen to her previous podcast interviews, to read her mystery book reviews, or to check out some of her awesome recipes.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
It is not easy to interview a writer of murder mysteries without giving away too many details, but when an author not only manages to create a full and complex cast of characters but also sweetens the deal with recipes for everything from cakes to zucchini dip (given in detail at the end of the book), that helps. G. P. Gottlieb does both in Battered (D. X. Varos, 2019), the first of her Whipped and Sipped Mystery series, set in present-day Chicago.Since divorcing her husband eight years ago, Alene Baron has owned a neighborhood café specializing in healthy but tasty breakfasts, lunches, and nonalcoholic drinks. Managing the business is a full-time job, and the staff ranges from Alene’s closest friend to relatives of the former owner who have been grandfathered in despite their troubled lives and work histories. With three children and an elderly father to support while counteracting the influence of her irresponsible ex-husband, Alene has her hands full.When one of the residents of her apartment block winds up dead, Alene takes it personally. The detective assigned to the case has an appealing way about him, although he discourages Alene when she seeks to do more than provide information. He urges her to leave the investigation in his hands, but Alene is not sure she can. After all, she has known most of the suspects for years, and as the chase continues, she begins to fear that she and her family may be the next targets on the killer’s list.G. P. Gottlieb hosts New Books in Literature, a podcast channel in the New Books Network. Battered is her debut novel. Listen to us chat about her characters, writing, and the source of her recipes (but don’t tell the children there are chickpeas hidden in the brownies).C. P. Lesley is the author of nine novels, including Legends of the Five Directions (The Golden Lynx, The Winged Horse, The Swan Princess, The Vermilion Bird, and The Shattered Drum), a historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible, and Song of the Siren, published in 2019. Find out more about her at http://www.cplesley.com.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nellie Bly is in some respects a household name, yet the passage of time has erased many of her accomplishments from popular memory. One of the first well-known female journalists, she wrote for Joseph Pulitzer’s acclaimed paper The World, traveled around the world in less than eighty days, married a millionaire, and pursued a celebrated career at a time when the idea of women with professions was still new.But her first journalistic assignment—the one that landed her a job with The World when she was still Elizabeth Cochrane, a twenty-something from Pittsburgh trying to make her living in the big city—was quite different. As Kate Braithwaite details in The Girl Puzzle (Crooked Cat Books, 2019), at Pulitzer’s suggestion, Elizabeth had herself declared insane and sent off to Blackwell’s Island, the location of one of New York’s most notorious lunatic asylums, with the intention of reporting on life from the inside.Braithwaite’s dramatic and compelling novel opens with the middle-aged Nellie Bly revealing her story to a young typist. We see Elizabeth bursting into Pulitzer’s office, demanding a job and receiving her assignment to infiltrate Blackwell’s Island. There, shut in with no guarantee of release, she uncovers conditions at times medieval, at times punitive, at times simply alarming. Her own forthright character and instinct to confront injustice act against her, confirming the nurses’ and doctors’ views that she is not mentally stable. One of the doctors demonstrates a certain kindness toward the afflicted, but most of his colleagues cannot manage even that.Some of Elizabeth’s fellow patients are—or become—unbalanced, but others have been sent to the asylum because they are poor, foreign, short-tempered, demanding, or simply inconvenient for their families or for society. As days turn to weeks, and no one arrives from The World, Elizabeth has to face the possibility that she may never leave the asylum.Of course, we know she does. But it’s to the credit of this well-written, meticulously researched, and beautifully realized novel that we still remain on the edge of our seats, desperate to learn what will happen next.C. P. Lesley is the author of nine novels, including Legends of the Five Directions (The Golden Lynx, The Winged Horse, The Swan Princess, The Vermilion Bird, and The Shattered Drum), a historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible, and Song of the Siren, published in 2019. Find out more about her at http://www.cplesley.com.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Zaytuna just wants to be left alone to her ascetic practices and nurse her dark view of the world. But when an impoverished servant girl she barely knows comes and begs her to bring some justice to the death of a local boy, she is forced to face the suffering of the most vulnerable in Baghdad and the emotional and mystical legacy of her mother, a famed ecstatic whose love for God eclipsed everything. The Lover (Kindle Direct Publishers, 2019) is a historically sensitive mystery that introduces us to the world of medieval Baghdad and the lives of the great Sufi mystics, washerwomen, Hadith scholars, tavern owners, slaves, corpsewashers, police, and children indentured to serve in the homes of the wealthy. It asks what it means to have family when you have nearly no one left, what it takes to love and be loved by those who have stuck by you, and how one can come to love God and everything He’s done to you.In our conversation Laury Silvers discusses her transition from writing scholarship to historical fiction, how her research equipped her to give life to 10th century Baghdad in her narrative, the primary and secondary sources that informed her novel, what daily life of diverse social classes would have looked like at that moment, early pious and mystic women, sufi training and practice, questions of race and colorism, and the complex environment women had to navigate in medieval Baghdad. She even gives us a preview of the second book in this series, called The Jealous.Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. He is the author of Interpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, and Language in the Han Kitab (Oxford University Press, 2017). He is currently working on a monograph entitled The Cinematic Lives of Muslims, and is the editor of the forthcoming volumes Muslims in the Movies: A Global Anthology (ILEX Foundation) and New Approaches to Islam in Film(Routledge). You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at kpeterse@odu.edu.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
For Blue and Red—arch enemies at the center of Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s epistolary novella, This is How You Lose the Time War (Gallery, 2019)—the only thing that endures after millennia of espionage and intrigue is love.El-Mohtar and Gladstone are themselves avid letter writers who favor fountain pens and G. Lalo stationery over pixels and Gmail. So it was only natural that when they decided to collaborate on a novella about enemies-turned-inamoratas, their tale takes the form of a correspondence.Since Blue and Red can travel across timelines and live for eons, they compose their letters from materials that take a long time to manipulate, such as the rings of a tree, an owl pellet, lava flows, and sumac seeds.El-Mohtar and Gladstone, on the other hand, were constrained by ordinary time and space. “He writes about four times as fast as I do. So it was it was tricky at first,” El-Mohtar says. “But then as we rounded off the first act, we started changing the pace of our respective writing. Max slowed down and I sped up. And then we were finishing at exactly the same time.”Like the co-authors, the book’s characters also found a rhythm. Blue and Red start our as sworn enemies sent across timelines to fight on behalf of very different futures. But they find that they have more in common with each other than they do with the universes that they’ve promised to defend.Red is “hungry for something more than what's known,” Gladstone says. “In Blue, she finds not just someone who takes the world as seriously as she does, but someone who has the same depth of desire and focus and devotion to her chosen art, which is time war … who throws her beyond her own limits.”“From both of their perspectives, there is a sense of alienation and insufficiency in the worlds that they come from,” El-Mohtar says. “Blue is someone who feels this constant gnawing, insatiable hunger that nothing in her world seems able to sate… until she starts being surprised by Red, this agent on the other side, who makes things hard for her.”Rob Wolf is the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape. He worked for a decade as a journalist, and now serves as director of communications at a non-profit dedicated to justice reform. Follow him on Twitter @RobWolfBooks.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
A picaresque novel about a serious boy with special powers, The Lost Puzzler takes place in an impoverished, technologically backwards world. After the fall of the advanced Tarakan Empire, the remaining population struggles to get by on what remains of their technology. Others turn to a rural existence, adhering to religious dogma which condemns all those who still seek out technology.Children who spontaneously exhibit tattoos are linked to the fallen Tarakanian society, sought after by those who collect Tarakanian technology, and ostracized or killed by the religion rural faction.Two boys, born years apart, both possess the markings which indicate special powers. One, Rafik, flees death in his religiously conservative village only to be passed from hand to hand, as various factions try to make use of his powers. Rafik possesses one of the most useful mutations, the ability to open the locks that guard caches of the lost Tarkanian technology. Those locks are made of intricate puzzles that can only be solved by a Puzzler, someone who has the power to arrange symbols into patterns.The other tattooed young man, whose only mutation is the ability to see through materials, is a scribe in the society of Historians. Decades later, he is tasked with finding out what happened to Rafik, and why it changed the course of history for the worse. An elusive fighter and communications specialist, the alluring Vincha, knows most of Rafik’s story, but our scribe must find a way to convince her to talk. Unfortunately, he’s not the only one looking for Vincha.The Lost Puzzler: The Tarakan Chronicles (Harper Voyager, 2019), is Eyal Kless’s first novel in English. Eyal’s website is eyalkless.com, and he loves to hear from readers.Gabrielle Mathieu is the author of the historical fantasy Falcon series and the upcoming epic fantasy, Girl of Fire. She blogs about travel and her books at http://gabriellemathieu.com/. You can also follow her on Twitter to get updates about new podcasts and more @GabrielleAuthor.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
It’s 1979, and the Islamic Revolution is just around the corner, as is a massive solar eclipse. In this epic novel set in the small Iranian city of Naishapur, a retired judge and his wife, Bibi, grow apples, plums, peaches, and sour cherries, as well as manage several generations of family members. The days here are marked by long, elaborate lunches on the terrace and arguments about the corrupt monarchy in Iran and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. And yet life in the orchard continues. An uncle develops into a powerful cleric. A young nephew goes to university, hoping to lead the fight for a new Iran and marry his childhood sweetheart. Another nephew surrenders to opium, while his widowed father dreams of a life in the West. Told through a host of vivid, unforgettable characters that range from servants to elderly friends of the family, To Keep the Sun Alive (Catapult, 2019) is the kind of rich, compelling story that not only informs the past, but raises questions about political and religious extremism today.Rabeah Ghaffari was born in Iran and lives in New York City. She is a filmmaker and writer whose work has appeared in the Tribeca Film Festival. Her collaborative fiction with artist Shirin Neshat was featured in "Reflections on Islamic Art"(Bloomsbury/Qatar) and her documentary, "The Troupe," featured Tony Kushner and received funding from the Ford Foundation and Lincoln Center. Her most recent feature-length screenplay, The Inheritors, was commissioned by producer and costume designer Patricia Field. Rabaeh is also a trained actor who spent her twenties doing theater and film in NYC. When not writing, she loves watching films and cooking. To Keep the Sun Alive  is her first novel.If you enjoy this podcast and would like to discuss it further with me and other New Books network listeners, please join us on Shuffle. Shuffle is an ad-free, invite-only network focused on the creativity community. As NBN listeners, you can get special access to conversations with a dynamic community of writers and literary enthusiasts. Sign up by going to here.G.P. Gottlieb is the author of the Whipped and Sipped Mystery Series and a prolific baker of healthful breads and pastries. Please contact her through her website (GPGottlieb.com) if you wish to recommend an author (of a beautifully-written new novel) to interview, to listen to her previous podcast interviews, to read her mystery book reviews, or to check out some of her awesome recipes.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In Sing This at My Funeral: A Memoir of Fathers and Sons (Wayne State University Press, 2019), David Slucki, Assistant Professor in the Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program at the College of Charleston, gives us a very different type of history book. Slucki’s memoir blends the scholarly and literary, grounding the story of his grandfather and father in the broader context of the twentieth century. Based on thirty years of letters from Jakub to his brother Mendel, on archival materials, and on interviews with family members, this is a unique story and an innovative approach to writing both history and family narrative. Students, scholars, and general readers of memoirs will enjoy this deeply personal reflection on family, Jewish history and grief.Max Kaiser is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne. He can be reached at kaiser@student.unimelb.edu.au Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
When Emily Dawson inherits a plantation in Barbados from her grandfather, Jonathan Fenty, in 1854, she is not quite sure what to make of the bequest. Emily, an English vicar’s daughter, has long been the “poor relation” of her merchant family, but the bigger surprise is that her grandfather never once mentioned the existence of this property, Peverills.In the company of her cousins Adam and Laura, Emily embarks on a sailing vessel for the West Indies. In Bridgeport, further shocks await. Their contact, Mr. Turner—reputed to be the wealthiest man in Barbados—is of African descent; and neither he nor anyone else in his family seems to think much of the English visitors. When Emily expresses the desire to see Peverills for herself, the Turners explicitly warn her away. Emily persists, only to find the estate in ruins and the family next door eager to take her in. But Emily soon begins to wonder about the neighbors’ motives, as well as the history of the plantation. How many other secrets did her grandfather conceal?In The Summer Country (William Morrow, 2019), Lauren Willig nimbly balances Emily’s story against her grandfather’s, interweaving the stories of three families across two timelines into a seamless whole. Better yet, she does it against the backdrop of a Barbados so beautifully realized that you will feel that you can smell the sugar cane burning and hear the singing carried on the wind.C. P. Lesley is the author of nine novels, including Legends of the Five Directions (The Golden Lynx, The Winged Horse, The Swan Princess, The Vermilion Bird, and The Shattered Drum), a historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible, and Song of the Siren, published in 2019. Find out more about her at http://www.cplesley.com.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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